Started thinking about key special teams issues this year. This is what we came up with, the positives, negatives, and what we will be watching.
1a) Tie … Michigan was actually spending meaningful amounts of time working on special teams this spring. Michigan worked as much on special teams the three days we was at practice as last five years combined under Old Regime.
1b) Just not time, but actually emphasizing special teams. There were entire sessions where nothing but special team skills was drilled.
2) Coach Rod and staff are starting to recruit players with the skill set necessary to be superior special team’s players. Getting proper personal to play special teams should pay dividends in a big way.
3) No more scared cows, special teams will get the best athletes/players Michigan has. The message this sends is vital. Special teams will not be looked at as a down off for our starters. It's about DAMN time!
1) Personnel the new Michigan has started recruiting players who will be superior special teams players, the current roster is not loaded with them. It might take a year or two to get the type of players necessary to make or special teams special.
Things were watching:
1) Long Snapper at Michigan has to replace last year’s snapper. As we watched in spring drills there were three guys doing very nice job. There is huge difference between doing it at practice and in front of 110,000 fans. Were optimistic, but will keep this on list until you see how they do during games.
2) How well does Michigan block on returns. Blocking last season on both punt and kick off returns was terrible. This has to improve, and Michigan did work on it during spring practice.
3) How successful will new punt formation and angle punts be? No more just, line up and punt straight down the middle of the field. Teams will have to defend the entire field on punt return. Michigan will also try to pin people with angle punts. This is all good. Question is how well will Michigan do at it. Mesko was unbelievable punting. Some of the highest punts we have ever seen!
4) Will the return game be improved? Closely related to #2, cannot let returner totally off the hook. They were slow and terrible at making first person miss. There are certain goals most teams have for return game. On punt returns, you want to get offenses first first down, at least ten yards. In addition, to get kick off return outside 30 yard line. Every yard gained on returns is one less your offense needs to gain to score. Short fields realized do to return games are any offenses best friend. In addition, for a young inexperienced offense like Michigan has, they can be a godsend. I would not be surprised to see both punt returns and kick off returns handled by freshmen.
5) Big plays from special teams- To include blocked punts, Touchdowns on returns, and fakes on punts and Field Goals. The research on blocking punts and scoring on punts is unreal. Teams that block a punt, or score on punt return win over 90% of the time. These types of plays are such momentum builders. Not to mention it gives opponents another thing they have to prepare for. This makes less time to prep for team’s offense and defense. Been my experience that blocking punts, or at least attempting to see great for return game. If opponents have to hold those blocks, it creates space for your return teams. Again, recruiting players with the skill sets to do this well is key.
written by CoachBt and ErocWolverine
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